We, the People

Insights of an Activist Judge
Author(s):
  • Publication Date: Nov 2016
  • Dimensions and Pages: 229 x 152 mm; 349 pp; Soft cover
  • Paperback EAN: 978-1-86814-998-8
  • eBook EAN: 978-1-77614-000-8 (North and South America, China); 978-1-77614-001-5 (Rest of world)
  • PDF EAN: 978-1-86814-999-5
  • Rights: World
  • Recommended Price (ZAR): 350.00

Albie Sachs’s book comes at a time when critical refl ection and
insightful analyses of South Africa’s past, and its current challenges
are most needed. The reflections in We, the People are indicative
not only of one man’s commitment to democratic ideals, but also,
symbolically, that of South Africa’s people.
— Ahmed Kathrada, South African politician, former political prisoner
and anti-apartheid Activist
Albie Sachs is at once an activist and a philosopher judge. In We, the
People, Sachs lets us into his prying thoughts about the foundations
and the construction of our constitutional project. He ponders the
complex relationships between the people, their chosen government
and the idealised outcomes the advent of democracy has promised.
— Dikgang Moseneke, former Deputy Chief Justice of the Republic of
South Africa

This stirring collection of essays and talks by activist and former judge Albie Sachs is the culmination of more than 25 years of thought about constitution-making and non-racialism. Following the Constitutional Court’s landmark Nkandla ruling in March 2016, it serves as a powerful reminder of the tenets of the Constitution, the rule of law and the continuous struggle to uphold democratic rights and freedoms.
We, the People offers an intimate insider’s view of South Africa’s Constitution by a writer who has been deeply entrenched in its historical journey from the depths of apartheid right up to the politically contested present. As a second-year law student at the University of Cape Town, Sachs took part in the Defiance Campaign and went on to attend the Congress of the People in Kliptown, where the Freedom Charter was adopted in 1955. Three decades later, shortly after the bomb attack in Maputo that cost him his arm and the sight in one eye, he was called on by the Constitutional Committee of the African National Congress to co-draft (with Kader Asmal) the first outline of a Bill of Rights for a new democratic South Africa. In 1994, he was appointed by Nelson Mandela to the Constitutional Court, where he served as a judge until 2009.
We, the People contains some of Sachs’ most memorable public talks and writings, in which he takes us back to the broad-based popular foundations of the Constitution in the Freedom Charter. He picks up on Oliver Tambo’s original vision of a non-racial future for South Africa, rather than one based on institutionalised power-sharing between the races. He explores the tension between perfectibility and corruptibility, hope and mistrust, which lies at the centre of all constitutions. Sachs discusses the enforcement of social and economic rights, and contemplates the building of the Constitutional Court in the heart of the Old Fort Prison as a mechanism for reconciling the past and the future.
Subjective experience and objective analysis interact powerfully in a personalised narrative that reasserts the value of constitutionality not just for South Africans, but for people striving to advance human dignity, equality and freedom across the world today.

Acknowledgements
Introduction
I. IN THE BEGINNING
The Future of Multiculturalism in South Africa: The vision of the
Constitution
The Original ‘Pinch-me’ Moment

II. HOPE AND CAUTION IN EXILE
The First and Last Word – Freedom

III. WE HAVE TO MISTRUST OURSELVES
Preparing Ourselves for Power
perfectibility and Corruptibility

IV. INVENTING A CONSTITUTION
South Africa’s Unconstitutional Constitution: The transition
from power to lawful power

V. WITH CLEAN HANDS AND WITHOUT SECRETS
Why I Supported Amnesty
Meeting the Man Who Organized a Bomb in My Car
Soft Vengeance

VI. RECONCILING THE PAST AND THE FUTURE
Archives, Truth and Reconciliation
The Place Next Door to Number Four
Free Spirits and Ravaged Souls
Towards the Liberation and Revitalisation of Customary Law
Values, Nation Formation and Social Compacting

VII. LIVING CONSTITUTIONAL LAW AND UBUNTU
Constitutional Court Simulation, Case No.2: The constitutionality of
the death penalty
A New African Jurisprudence: From abstract judicial rulings to
purposive transformative jurisprudence
Equality Jurisprudence

VIII. MORE THAN CRUMBS FROM THE TABLE: ENFORCING SOCIAL AND
ECONOMIC RIGHTS
Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity: Bringing human solidarity back into the
rights equation

IX. STRUGGLE CONTINUES
Nothing About Us Without Us: Disability
From Refugee to Judge on Refugee Law
A Conversation About the Sacred and the Secular: Same-sex
marriage
Getting the Last Laugh on Rhodes

X. ARE THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE BORN?
United in Diversity
Are the Beautiful People Born?

Cases Cited
Sources

Albie Sachs is an activist and a former judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa (1994 – 2009). He is the author of several books, including The Jail Diary of Albie Sachs, Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter and The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law.  Sachs has travelled to many countries sharing his experiences in order to help heal divided societies.

Albie Sachs’s book comes at a time when critical refl ection and
insightful analyses of South Africa’s past, and its current challenges
are most needed. The reflections in We, the People are indicative
not only of one man’s commitment to democratic ideals, but also,
symbolically, that of South Africa’s people.
— Ahmed Kathrada, South African politician, former political prisoner
and anti-apartheid Activist
Albie Sachs is at once an activist and a philosopher judge. In We, the
People, Sachs lets us into his prying thoughts about the foundations
and the construction of our constitutional project. He ponders the
complex relationships between the people, their chosen government
and the idealised outcomes the advent of democracy has promised.
— Dikgang Moseneke, former Deputy Chief Justice of the Republic of
South Africa

Related titles

Leave a Reply